While there are still new-business opportunities floating around out there, they are fewer and of generally less size than in years past. If your new-business team is finding itself with time on its hands, use this as an opportunity to kick your agency's game up a notch. Here are some suggestions:
1. Upgrade your agency presentation materials. While the standard printed agency brochure seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird, the smartest firms have found new and clever ways to present their agency capabilities. This is a great time to think through some creative template approaches that can be customized for particular pitches as they arise.
In addition to original hard-copy leave behinds, which remain an important component of the pitch process, this would be a great time to create or update a video that can give a lively overview of the agency's capabilities while highlighting your staff's vibrancy and chemistry. Also consider putting in place an intranet site that can be customized for an individual pitch. This not only delivers your message, it has the added bonus of showing off your digital skills.
2. Hone personal presentation skills. Almost everyone can use a refresher on their speaking delivery, with some needing more help than others. This is one of the areas that can trip up an otherwise solid new-business pitch, particularly if the person being touted as the key client liaison is a less-than-impressive presenter. And, by the way, this is not just for junior staffers. Regardless of seniority, have everyone on the team take the course.
3. As rapid changes abound, this is the perfect time for a “visioning day.” Take a deep dive into the relevance of your firm's image and brand, positioning the agency for better times to come. Take a fresh look at the industries you're targeting and the capabilities you're offering. Make sure your agency vision for the next few years is exciting and compelling.
4. Put your pitch team through a new-business workshop. Learn some of the techniques that other agencies are using to stand out from the pack. Find out what is eliciting both positive and negative responses from clients.
Bottom line: Use this time effectively so that you're well positioned for the next economic upswing.
Dan Orsborn is a senior partner at SelectResources International, where he heads the PR agency search practice. His column focuses on new business issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.